“I’m Just Ken” Just Barely Made It to the Film ‘Barbie,’ Let Alone the Oscars Stage

Director Greta Gerwig fought for its inclusion, saying she needed it “with every inch of my body,” co-writer Mark Ronson said.

Ryan Gosling at the London premiere of Barbie
(Image credit: Getty)

It’s basically impossible to imagine Greta Gerwig’s Barbie without Ryan Gosling’s intrepid performance of “I’m Just Ken”—but according to the song’s co-writer, Mark Ronson, the bit almost ended up on the cutting room floor.

Turns out the studio was unsure about the song, which went on to be nominated for an Oscar: “I thought, ‘God, I hope we don’t ruin it,’” Ronson told The Sunday Times. “At that first screening, the song wasn’t working. I panicked. The humor wasn’t translating, and Greta had to fight. The studio asked her how much she really needed it and she said ‘With every inch of my body.’ And then there was a big swing.” 

Ryan Gosling performs "I'm Just Ken (Merry Kristmas, Barbie)" with Mark Ronson

Gosling performing "I'm Just Ken (Merry Kristmas, Barbie)"

(Image credit: Atlantic Records)

Despite ample controversy of Gerwig and the film’s titular star Margot Robbie not receiving individual Oscar nominations, Barbie snagged eight nods total, including recognition for “I’m Just Ken” and for Gosling himself, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor. For Friday’s Academy Award rehearsals—where presenters and performers alike prepared for the big show Sunday—Gosling brought the heat. And his turn as Ken has impressed even the crème de la crème, like Julia Roberts, herself a Best Actress Oscar winner in 2001 (for her titular role in the film Erin Brockovich).

“I met Ryan recently, a few times, and when you bring such dimension to a performance, it’s remarkable,” Roberts told People at a dinner in L.A. to celebrate the launch of her Chopard x Julia Roberts collection. (She is a global ambassador for the brand.) “Barbie was so unique and new.” 

Julia Roberts at her Chopard Collection launch

Roberts at her Chopard Collection launch

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Robbie has high hopes for Gosling’s performance at the Academy Awards, telling Variety on Saturday night “He’s going to crush it. I’m so excited. I think he’s going to be the highlight of the whole night. I think a lot of people are going to be tuning in for this specific performance.” 

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ken

Robbie doubles as not just Gosling's costar, but one of his biggest fans

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Of the songwriting process, Ronson acknowledged that “Ken is ridiculous,” he said. “But Greta’s point was that nobody should ever be laughing at a character. We feel their pain, as crazy as that sounds about a guy wearing a white mink and two pairs of sunglasses. I never wanted to write a song for a cheap laugh. You want something to get under people’s skin.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.